Federal Program Hopes To Increase American River Fish Counts

American River photo by Teresa R. O'Grady/Wiklimedia
American River photo by Teresa R. O’Grady/Wiklimedia


Central Valley rivers like American have suffered through difficult drought-related times. But a new federal program, as chronicled by Sacramento’s CBS 13, is hoping to improve the American’s Chinook and steelhead numbers.

Here’s some of reporter Kelly Ryan’s report:

About a mile west of Sunrise Boulevard is where workers are cleaning and sorting rocks getting the river primed for salmon. Heavy construction equipment traverses the banks of the American River at Sacramento Bar four miles downstream from Nimbus Dam.

“They’ll be habitat in here for the small fish. We’ll put wood in here and some willows growing up,” said John Hannon, a fish biologist with the Bureau of Reclamation.

This federally backed program has a mission: a home makeover for Chinook salmon and steelhead trout.

“The existing gravel is too large for the fish to use in this area, so this new gravel is smaller and the fish will be able to reproduce successfully,” Hannon said.

According to the Bureau of Reclamation, the number of spawning fish here has been on the decrease since early 2000.

“Before, the rock in this area was like bowling ball size material,” Hannon said. “So when the salmon spawns they use their tail and they have to dig out a nest, and the rock was too big for that.”

Over time, Folsom Dam – built in 1955 – blocked the natural sediment and river flow and made it difficult for fish to spawn.

Hopefully some good news will come out of this project.